Copacabana Beach

The beach stretches a mile and along its mosaic sidewalks the famed Girl from Ipanema used to sashay. That song is still my favorite. Then her daughter took up the tradition, wearing, of course, a bikini as substantial as dental floss.

The length of the beach has the Copacabana Palace as its grand hotel, restaurants fill in the rest, and the one Renato and I frequented one day stood at one end. Our host, a hearty Brazilian man, promised us fresh-caught lobster. From the deck of the restaurant we watched the fishing boat come in, grind onto the sand, and a haul of lobsters taken inside. Our host went into the kitchen and brought out a lobster for us to admire. Here’s your lunch, Lucille, he said, beaming.

At this moment the lobster writhed out of his grip and fell to the floor, whence it scrabbled under the table. A waiter got down on his knees and tried to grab it but failed. Our host joined him there and amid much huffing and puffing and laughter, emerged with the frantic lobster in his hand, so back it went to the kitchen.

When my meal was finally served, steaming and with butter on the side, my stomach clenched and I had only to look at Renato, who swiftly traded his steak for my lobster. I noticed he didn’t eat much of it.


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